BMW has revealed further details of the Megacity electric car that will go on sale in 2013.
The car will benefit from field trials the company has been conducting with the electric Mini E in 2010 and the 1 Series-based ActiveE electric car throughout 2011.
The VW Golf-sized Megacity will have no allegiance to any other car in the BMW or Mini stable, though. 'Purpose-built is the only way to go with electric vehicles,' says Manual Sattig of the project management team.
The car will be built on what BMW calls a Life-Drive concept. All the drive components batteries, electric motor and management system are housed in an aluminium chassis onto which BMW will mount a carbonfibre hatchback passenger cell.
The use of carbonfibre instead of steel will ensure the Megacity weighs no more than a similar-sized petrol or diesel car, despite its heavy battery pack. The sandwich layout will also keep the centre of gravity low and preserve the vital BMW fun-to-drive character, claims Sattig. Preliminary crash tests suggest the car will be as safe as a conventional steel-bodied model.
BMW's electric Megacity is starting to take shape**Electric power**
The electric motor is mounted at the rear of the car and drives the rear wheels, while the front-rear weight distribution will be 50:50 another characteristic that BMW regards as essential for all its cars.
Despite the sandwich floor layout the Megacity will have a similar driving position to a VW Golf. It will be sold under a sub-brand name, rather like the high-performance cars from the company's M division.
It is being developed under what BMW calls Project i, a company within a company charged with creating 'sustainable and visionary concepts'. Ultimately, BMW plans a full electric version of every car it makes.
No figures are yet being quoted for the power and performance of the car, but BMW says field trials with the Mini E have shown that people use electric cars exactly as they would drive a petrol or diesel model. That has taught BMW that a range of between 150 and 200 kilometres (up to 125 miles) on a full charge would be about right, and that recharging ought to be possible in around two-and-a-half hours.
The Megacity could eventually blossom into a complete range if demand exists. The aluminium floor can easily be stretched or shrunk to suits larger or smaller cars.